Meet Mark

Let me introduce myself. My name is Mark Sisson. I’m 63 years young. I live and work in Malibu, California. In a past life I was a professional marathoner and triathlete. Now my life goal is to help 100 million people get healthy. I started this blog in 2006 to empower people to take full responsibility for their own health and enjoyment of life by investigating, discussing, and critically rethinking everything we’ve assumed to be true about health and wellness...

Tell Me More
Stay Connected
February 05 2015

Why You Should Reconsider the “Workout” Mentality

By Mark Sisson
78 Comments

Why You Should Reconsider the The workout. It’s funny how we talk about it. We “check in” at gyms to register our efforts with Facebook friends. We dramatically label everyday exertions as “quite the workout.” It even becomes a game of equivalents. We’ll lug ten bags of groceries to the house or mow the lawn and publicly declare, “I think that counted for my workout today!” The term is even applied to sex, which we’re told is a “major calorie burner.” (Do we seriously need to quantify or justify this?) The problem, as I see it here, is we approach activity with a quota mentality. As handy as pedometers and other fitness gadgets can be, they encourage this mindset. We judge (and track) our activity in terms of allocation rather than immersion – “this” amount of hours, sweat, pounds, steps, calories, etc. To be honest, we view it in terms of points to earn rather than enjoyment to be had or actualization to be fostered in a day. How much do the semantics impact our outcomes – let alone motivation? Much more than we’d imagine, I’d say.

Let’s back up here for a minute and admit something. The fact is, for nearly all of human history no one ever really “worked out.” Grok himself would’ve been utterly confounded by 90% of what we do (let alone wear) at the gym. He probably would assume you’d gorged on fermented fruit if you asked whether he’d done his cardio or resistance training.

As humans through the ages, we certainly played. We even competed – at everyday antics or in communal games of course. We’re wired for physical and creative play throughout our full lifetime. As hominids, we also naturally relish a good competition – whether it’s racing Big Wheels down the street or fighting adversaries (or older siblings). As kids, we trained ourselves to run up the backyard hill faster. Later, we revel in the challenge of bettering our 5K time. This is the good stuff – the stuff Grok would get and jump in on.

However, there’s a distinct difference between the likes of play and personal accomplishment (or even training toward that) compared with the standard, obligatory “workout.” I belong to a gym and almost always have, but even I acknowledge there’s something strange about crunching dozens if not hundreds of people together in a building on various machines and tracks. It conjures the lab rat comparison if we’re completely honest. But let’s not blame it on gyms. For every person having the time of their lives laughing (and sweating) their way through Zumba with friends, there’s a miserable individual grumbling his/her way through a regularly scheduled outdoor run. The point here isn’t the activity or even the place but the attitude and role we assign to it in the course of our days.

If you go to other countries today – even many European nations, the concept of “workout” doesn’t translate for the most part. A Slate article a few years ago offered a look at exercise around the world – what people did for activity and in what ways (if any) different subsections of their populations pursued anything akin to American style workouts. To this day, I love this observation offered in one of the descriptions: “The main reason French people practice sports is not to maintain their health (though that comes a very close second), nor their looks. Nope, according to a 2003 study, French people practice sports because they enjoy them.” What a novel concept…

In most places around the world, people still bike to local markets. They walk to work and/or perform significant physical labor for pay or to maintain the home. (This applies to more people than we might think in this country, too.) They walk to get water perhaps. Are these people looking to quantify their lifestyle in terms of workout “points”? I don’t think so.

Clearly, it’s important to move, and devoting an hour or so a day to intensive gym time or a solid run confers handy benefits, no? However, what if we thought less about “fitting in” our day’s movement and started identifying our lives with it?

Identifying with movement… Imagine for a minute what that would be like. It would mean seeing movement not as the exception to be scheduled (or measured in equivalents throughout the day) but a default lifestyle to simply align with.

It would mean viewing movement not as logistical chore but as a means of physical actualization. How have you actualized your physical self today? It would mean shifting our thinking and living to revolve around our natural need and instinct for movement. Have you lived a natural life today?

So what does this mean for us? If we surrender the workout mentality, what does it (or should it) actually end up changing in reality? When we can get over the hump and choose to lead an active, primal life, I think many if not most of us do better if we don’t try to parse it out. Our activity is more than our fitness tracker’s graph at the end of a day. It’s the pleasure we took, the life we lived, the thrill we felt, the accomplishment we achieved, the connection we made with the environment (or person/people) we were active with.

When we surrender the workout mentality and create a primal mindset around it, I think activity becomes a value. That shift then invites us to mold the rest of life around that value.

How would our choices differ if we made physical activity a value rather than a measure? What would home life look like if movement (including lifting heavy things) was a value? Would we swing our kids more? Roughhouse more? Have sex more often? Leave the house more? How would our home environments – and yards – be different? What would our work of choice or work environment or schedule look like? Would our commutes change? How would our social life or social circles change if activity was an infused value rather than a schedule conflict?

I’m curious what you think. Where do you see the “workout mentality” operating in your own life or in the lives of others you see? What do you feel could change with an emphasis on value over measure? Thanks for reading today. Have a great week, everyone.

Prefer listening to reading? Get an audio recording of this blog post, and subscribe to the Primal Blueprint Podcast on iTunes for instant access to all past, present and future episodes here.

If you'd like to add an avatar to all of your comments click here!

78 thoughts on “Why You Should Reconsider the “Workout” Mentality”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  1. I read the book, “French women don’t get fat”. Very good read about how our lives differ. The french don’t stock food in their cupboards like we do. They walk to the local market to buy just what they need for dinner that day. Its a family gathering where everyone sits at the dinner table and thoroughly enjoy the food.
    Walking is the main way of getting around the city.
    As of late I been thinking how the French don’t have GMOs in their food.

    1. I practice the same grocery buying habits. I stock some herbs and spices, and freeze some seasonally-available meats (venison, wild duck, pheasant, dove) for later, but I also hit up the grocery store every day – even if I don’t walk there – to get the veggies and meat.
      Even with Costco, I buy a rack of lamb or some fish for that night, and a big bag of veggies and some avocados.
      One of the most interesting aspects of the French food culture to me is their view of snacking – you just don’t do it. I think they’re onto something there.

      1. Not snacking is HUGE for me if I am focusing on dropping a few pounds. 2 meals/day and never getting seconds seems to work very well.

    2. The problem is that French women Do get fat. The French have been studying obesity in the French population for years. Many French women who are thin smoke.

  2. I call this opposite of the workout mentality “the life of the body” — kind of a corollary to the “life of the mind” people talk about sometimes. Of course the ideal is to have them both integrated, but I suppose most people tend to one direction or the other and have to sort of cultivate the other tendency. For me, I’ve always been a reader and daydreamer, someone who likes music and pictures. My connection to the life of the body is walking, walking, walking, and dancing. I also used to play a wind instrument — that keeps you plugged in, too. Cooking. Having any kind of relationship with children. I make the “workout” part of my week — to keep me from absent-mindedly drifting back toward the daydreaming side — and I really need it when the weather makes it hard to walk or my dicey ankle limits my dance moves. Thanks for a good read today.

  3. This is so timely, I am in the process of changing my life and I am trying to figure out how to be active enough in a long term way as I age. I have changed my job for less stress and the ability to walk or bike to work. I want to put play in my day and lose this idea of exercise as separate from life. Great post.

    1. Heather,
      You nailed it. How we live and move today will determine how well we move and live as we age. The goal should not be to have the biggest muscles or the sleekest figure, but to have free flowing strength and full range natural human movement. Mark is a sage and his nudge to stop “working out” and start living a motion based life (with play and some work) could make us all healthier, more pain free and maybe just a lot more fun to be around as we age.

  4. I’m a long time reader but a first time poster. Many thanks to Mark and all you who inspire others to take personal responsibility for their health and well being. I usually don’t get too worked up about anything, especially the stuff I see on the internet. However, after running across this piece of irresponsible journalism (I’m doing my best to be kind here), and seeing this post today, I feel compelled to share this:
    http://www.businessinsider.com/health-risks-paleo-diet-red-meat-lebron-2015-2

    The only reason I’m sharing this is to illustrate how uninformed people can be in their beliefs, and how ridiculous it is that they are allowed to express them on a public platform like without repercussion.
    The tagline “risky for most people” plays on your fears- a clever tool when the presenter wants to control your emotions. The presenter then goes on to “inform” us about something which she clearly knows little or nothing of, using prose, inflection, sweeping generalizations, and the old strategy of “reductio ad absurdium” (the comment about “wine with their mastodon” being a very poor example) to convince us of her unsubstantiated position. She makes several completely FALSE statements with a relatively straight face, refers to “studies” without citation, and the last half of her argument is an attack on a completely different subject wherein she uses her obvious disdain of one to indict the other.
    The real sadness in all of this is that this woman is a Registered Dietician and Exercise Physiologist! A health care professional dishing out this kind of “advice” should be held accountable.
    I sent her a message on Facebook- no response, of course.

    1. still awaiting moderation? did I say something wrong?

        1. Thanks for clearing that up John! As I re-read my post I realized that it’s a little disjointed at the beginning but I didn’t think I said anything offensive. 🙂

    2. Business Insider HATES Paleo. BI published a similar article on October 21, 2104, and it’s even worse! “Oh Paleo is horrible, only millionaires like LeBron can afford it, and oh by the way we cooked up a modified Paleo diet for normal people just like you dear reader… we’ve added whole grains to make it healthy!”

      Not to worry. We’re on it. MDA readers blasted the comment section of the Octorber 2014 story so well that BI had to close comments. 😎

    3. Jeff, you’re talking about the Internet, where absolutely anybody can post anything, factual or not. Independent, non-Internet research is ALWAYS necessary if one wants the truth. Most of us on MDA have done the research with our own bodies and have therein found the truth. If others want to believe Ms Heller’s nonsense, well, so be it. Not my problem.

  5. Meals in boxes and cans, fast food eateries, elevators, escalators, moving sidewalks, automobiles, LazyBoy recliners, and screens, screens, screens. All in the name of making modern life “easier.” But the toll extracted includes obesity, type II diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, and on and on. Preaching to the choir here, but as a healthcare provider, I’m worried. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if Primal Blueprint Fitness could somehow be incorporated into the primary and secondary education curricula? Getting our youth on board early is the best way of encouraging a lasting improvement in the health of humans.

    1. Back in ancient times I was a 7th, 8th, and 9th grade P.E. teacher in California where P.E. was required. I always tried to instill a love of movement and encouraged my students to find a sport they could participate in for a lifetime. It seemed to me that class should be fun and a way to release some of the stress of the rest of their day. These “children” must now be approaching 50 years old. (Yikes) I wonder if I made any impact in this department.

  6. I’ve been paleo since June 2010. I lost 130lbs. But, I’m still a lazy bastard. I try to move as little as possible everyday. My physical activity the last several months has consisted of about 30 minutes of pull-ups, dips, and push-ups – in that order – twice a week. I do stand all day at work, though. Anyway, it suffices to say that I hate exercise.

    1. Ditto on that last sentence, Adam. I was apparently born without a workout mentality. Oh, I’ve belonged to various gyms over the years…and hated every minute I spent in them. People do get wiser as they get older, however, and I quit paying my gym membership years ago. Let the folks who enjoy dripping sweat all over the equipment have them.

      A moderate amount of motion is necessary for good musculature and adequate energy, but it doesn’t haven’t to be a formal program of calisthenics. I much prefer to do what I enjoy–biking, walking, gardening, skiing, in addition to everyday housework that includes many trips up and down several flights of stairs. IMO, exercise shouldn’t be an obligatory drudge that we do because we think it’s somehow necessary.

      1. I am with you Shary with a few exceptions. I used to ski but it scared me so much I would up-chuck before going. Also it got too expensive. Tried cross country skiing and liked it as long as there were no hills but husband hated it and I had no one to go with. I don’t bike anymore because I don’t feel comfortable in traffic.

        I used to play volleyball (my favorite sport) but have acquired, in my old age, a couple of physical problems that make it inadvisable to play. I do walk to the store and most other places, I do climb at least 10 flights of stairs everyday, I do have a vegetable and flower garden that I tend, I do shovel snow, and do housework.

        Having said all that, I find that at age 74 I am just getting weaker. The 21 day challenge I just participated in really pointed out just how pathetic I am. So, like it or not, I will be spending some time doing specific strength training or I am really going to be in trouble down the road. Won’t be joining a gym, however. I just want to function well enough to easily move through the day.

  7. I cannot stand the thought of ‘working out’. It makes me feel tired and I just want to collapse on the couch instead especially after a busy day. I love this article. It really hit home with me. I could take the kids for a walk to the park, play baseball and basketball with them more. It’s fun for all of us and great quality time with the kiddos. Sure beats being drilled by Jillian Michaels 😉

    1. Good for you! I don’t own one and I don’t ever want to own one. I’m kinda sick of hearing people talk about these gadgets and 10,000 steps all the time. One of my friends wore one when we went to the Grand Canyon this summer…wanted to see how much activity we did there. I wanted to say “Who cares?! We’re in the Grand Canyon!!” That should be enough to make anyone feel like they’re getting in some good physical activity!

        1. I’m sorry I upset you with my comment. It was not meant to be a sneer towards fitbit/gadget users. You are right in that I shouldn’t judge others for wearing a fitbit if they want to. If it motivates them to move more, then more power to them. Thank you for making me think about that. I was thinking too much about all the people that keep trying to tell me I should get one. It’s just not for me.

        2. Aw Kristie, you didn’t upset me. I was just being a little feisty is all. You might even say I was kind of being a jerk. I commend you for taking the high road.

          That’s kind of what I was getting at. Some people are helped by that stuff is all. My sister-in-law dropped a ton of weight using one.

          I’ve never worn one, but I love gps watches and posting workouts at dailymile. It helps me.

          Sorry I was kind of a jerk.

          We’re all on the same team.

        3. Aw Trent and Kristi both of your comments to each other were cute in the end! I think most people struggle with saying “sorry I got defensive about that, thanks for making me think about it a bit more”. You guys both just did that perfectly. Made me smile.

        4. I am an avid PB (Mark’s Daily Apple) reader, but have not yet posted. I couldn’t resist here. I agree with Jenna regarding the little exchange between Trent and Kristie. Thanks for encouraging all of us to be mindful of our words, both spoken and written.

          I do not belong to a gym, but I admit my “workout” routine has become an obsession. I am going to rethink this mentality! Great points in this article to consider.

      1. I have a fitbit I wear just out of curiosity The best was looking at the data after a weekend of upland bird hunting in SD. I logged 25 miles of walking over some fairly hilly and uneven terrain. Pretty neat.
        It also reminds me of how lazy I can be during the workweek…

        1. Agreed. I use the Garmin Fit and it is interesting to me how inactive I am during the work week. It has encouraged me to go home and take a walk. On the flip side, if I hang my arm out of the passenger window of my friend’s vehicle as we move down an off-road trail I take many, many steps according to my Fit. Not accurate on how many steps I actually took, but I did win the weekly step challenge that week. 🙂

    2. Good for you if you are ready to get rid of it! Personally, I love mine. I got it for Christmas and it helped me tremendously in the 21-day challenge. I love the goal feature. I could place my goals easily achievable and move them up everyday! It was really rewarding. I think it’s a great tool for somebody who is trying to change their habits.

  8. I have developed an organic relationship with my food by way of the selection and preparation process. Seeing your food through the process of purchase to consumption is a fine way to ensure proper nutrients to support your fitness goals.

    I take the stairs to my office…I work on the 12 floor and it really gets your heart rate up. I carry two big bags to the office, one with documents the other with meals and exercise clothes. This has been my process….my luggage for an hour long daily vacation. I find great satisfaction in exchanging my dress shirt and pants for an old “Iron Maiden” t shirt and tattered addidas pants. I crank up my music (way up) and lose myself in the movements.

  9. I definitely think that workouts can’t undo all of the bad positions that people are in throughout the day, and that for many people who have unconditioned body with terrible movement patterns, workouts SHOULD be “practice”.

    For many patients of mine with musculoskeletal pain, the source of their problems is errant movement. At the gym, they can use their training to become their rehab and have a place to safely and effectively “practice” better movement, which makes them more resilient to injury and pain free in many cases.

    While I would love to have all of my patients to have care free lives of Grok, running through the fields and frolicking and hunting, that just isn’t the course of life many people in our modern society undertake.

    Workouts shouldn’t be thought of as a “chore,” and neither should anything else – that is just a poor habit of negative association. They should be thought of as a chance for improvement and be utilized as such.

    1. Dr. Gustin, As a practitioner myself I understand what you’re saying here. I try not to have my patients think of working out as a “chore” and encourage them to just move whether it’s gardening, yard work, or house work. One patient and I discussed her lack of time because all she does is chores around the house while her children are in school. So, I encouraged her to change the way she does her chores so she’s using different muscle groups. One thing we came up with is “laundry squats”. Instead of moving all of her laundry at once in the basket and dumping it into the washer, she dumps the hamper onto the floor and then moves one item at a time, squatting to pick it up, then moving it to the washer. It takes a bit longer, but she is getting a great lower body workout. I decided to try it since we came up with it and I must say, it works. I can easily get a sweat while doing laundry and my laundry day has become more of a workout. Doing it quickly enough gets the heart rate elevated and it become a “sprint”.

      It’s nice to see other practitioners on here. The one I work with is not exactly willing to consider this type of lifestyle because there aren’t any double blind, random studies that support it. Maybe he will reconsider when he sees how well I’m doing as I lose weight.

  10. This couldn’t of been more perfectly timed. I have recently caught myself getting too caught up in “scheduling” workouts as opposed to just doing activities that make me happy. A friend invites me to go snowshoeing….but I’ve already worked out today? That is an absurd thought and I have been actively working on just doing what I think sounds like fun. I somehow stepped away from it.

    Thanks for verbalizing what I have been thinking about for the last couple months.

  11. I’ve been eradicating the term “workout” for more than a year. It’s been hard, as i”ve used the word to describe running and lifting activities for over 20 years. I’ve since replaced “workout” with “session” or ‘training session.” Workout conjures images of working out your personal problems, and training is not that kind of thing. When people ask if I work out I answer no, but I’m active. My training sessions are an activity — not a time to ‘workout” my mommy/daddy issues.

  12. I like to walk, but I like to walk to someplace, like to do errands or go to someone’s house. I really don’t like walking just to look ar the scenery. my urban area is just not that interesting. I like to hike because that’s in nature. But I’m trying to fit more play in.

  13. I think it’s much harder sitting or laying around all day than it is to be active. Calmly active and actively calm.

  14. I love working out. I love exercise. I love going on 2-hour runs on a Saturday morning. When it becomes drudgery (which it has periodically in the past), I find a different workout.

    I love P90X. I love Insanity. As soon as I’m done with work, I love to pop in a DVD and get after it. I also love tracking my workouts. I love the numbers. If you don’t, oh well. Do something else.

    These workouts are more beneficial when I eat well, which Mark has helped me to do.

    Thanks Mark.

    I also play with my kids at the park. I love playing in the ocean and in the mountains.

    What I don’t do is plop my a$$ in front of a TV for hours at a time, ever.

    1. If someone wants to plop in front of a TV for hours at a time, what is it to you?
      Get off your high horse.

      That’s what you wrote about Kristie…

      1. I honestly don’t care if someone wants to sit in front of a tv for hours. That’s their business.

        That’s my point.

        Mark writes a non-judgmental, well thought post about workout mentality and his legion of followers misinterpret it and start throwing out their fitbits and thumbing their nose at those who have one.

        I, by the way, have never used a fitbit. But if it helps, go for it.

        By the way, my high horse is comfortable. It offers me a great view.

        I’m sure Kristie appreciates you having her back. You seem like a decent fellow.

        1. Your really high horse seems to have left you with lack of oxygen to the brain. I guess you can’t figure out you called the kettle black with Kristie. Oh well, you seem like a nice, arrogant fella.

  15. I work out at the gym to maintain strength so that I can SKI! I love skiing and I honestly know of no better way to fun my way to fitness.

  16. We have achieved the life Grok worked his/her ass off for, maximum food gathering efficiency with minimal effort and risk.

  17. Spot on Mark. This site has helped me focus so much more on movement and activity rather than working out. I’ve definately gravitated to the move slowly mentality and would never be accused of chronic cardio. I don’t really enjoy working out. But I love listening to music and walking. Getting fresh air and walking. Talking with my daughter and walking. Standing at work to feel good at the end of the day. Swimming to feel the warmth of water. Yoga to feel a good muscle stretch and relaxation. Really need to add more play to the mix to further enjoy my world. Thanks for all the great tips. So many are mental tweaks that you articulate so well.

  18. I recently started working with a personal trainer. I have free time and my goal is to be in the best shape ever by my next age milestone. The trainer has the benefit of pushing me harder than I would push myself at the gym three days per week. On the off days, I find myself moving more. Biking paddling, walking the dog longer, and twice a day rather than once. There is value in finding opportunities to move throughout the day rather than using the “workout at the gym” to overcompensate for lack of movement in a SAD lifestyle. Time to put down the iPad and get outside for at least an hour.

  19. I quit the gym this year after eight years of working out cw everyday.since then ive been feeling guilty because i dont work out anymore…i love walking,hiking,bicycling,sprinting,pullups,pushups,squats and planks. This article put things in perspective for me … I just have to keep telling myself that doing what i love to do is enough and its okay :).

  20. Mark, you make some excellent points!
    I tend to live more in my head than in my body, and physical workouts (and play) still don’t come readily for me, especially in winter (I hate cold). I have to push myself a bit or it doesn’t happen. But I think bringing more joy to my workouts, and learning to live more in my body, can only help!
    I do like my little pedometer, though. I like knowing just how far I’ve gone, and I like seeing if I can go farther.

  21. Another mentality which frequently accompanies the “workout mentality” is that of the “plateau”. I know many people see it as a place where progress (weight loss, usually) stops, instead of an achievement (your body attaining new efficiency). This is probably because a workout is separate from real life activities.

    But it feels different if exercise is part of a normal day. Consider a person who could barely walk up a flight of stairs is now able to run up flights of stairs without becoming winded.

  22. Love it. If I have to go workout I will find an excuse not to go. It sounds like drudgery. But if I have time for a walk after work, then I’m all excited about that. It’s fun and enjoyable. And I might do a few sprints or climb a tree while I’m out there. Who knows? I don’t remember ever doing anything extra at the gym or looking forward to going.

  23. Normally I totally agree with Mark’s articles but I can’t this time. For my own personal view, if most of our day is sedentary eg office worker then ‘workouts’ are definitely beneficial. Or if recovering from an injury etc etc. Plus I like to think of what I do today will help and benefit me later in life. One more plus.. I feel great afterwards.

    1. I guess the intense workout is trying to compensate for all that sedentary time, and that makes sense. I guess bottom line is as long as you’re enjoying it then it’s sustainable. When it becomes a dreaded chore it won’t last long. However I have noticed that liberal walking and other low intensity activities is essential otherwise the intense workouts can easily become too extreme and lead to injuries. Walking, playing with kids, shipping, gardening etc all help the body achieve better balance.

  24. I love to go out in nature, preferably every day. If I don’t, I feel weird, restless, unhappy. Part of it is moving the body, but for me it is also about noticing and appreciating. Andy Goldsworthy is an artist who creates in the natural world, and “plays”, “works” with patterns, and structures as Grok probably did too. It is his need, but also fun. I strongly recommend a film on YouTube called “Working with Time Rivers and Tides”. Inspiring and Primal 😉 Link below

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iBsBlGhkLxc

  25. I guess it’s all about your goals. I personally love working out and feel like something is missing from my day if I am not hitting the gym to lift or do a set of sprints on the bike. However, my goals are to greatly increase my athletic performance along with losing a lot of weight so that makes sense. Maybe if those goals change in time, my feelings may change. I doubt i would ever be comfortable going to a park for a walk or jog, or doing some exercises there. Way to socially phobic to feel comfortable with all those people staring at me. Same goes with playing most sports.

  26. I use the line from finding nemo “just keep swimming” changed it a bit and apply it to my life saying “just keep moving, just keep moving, just keep moving moving moving” It’s cheesy but it’s catchy and works for me. Gives me a good mindset.

  27. As a former couch potato, I scheduled work-outs as a way to get myself motivated. Once I started moving more I needed to “work-out” less because movement became a part of my life. I still use a pedometer as a prompt though.

  28. This just makes me feel better about mowing the lawn and shampooing the carpets. It’s not a chore anymore, it’s ‘exercise with benefits.’

  29. My grandparents lived into their 90s.. One is 95. Never went to a gym.. She still plants her garden, shovels her own snow, does her own yard work. Never traded in her Cape style house which is full of stairs, for a ranch. Worked until she was 80. She just keeps moving. Must be a lesson there somewhere!

  30. Just look at young kids: they ‘work out’ all the time without thinking about it. Even when watching TV they’re squirming around into different positions, standing up for a bit, lying down, then climbing onto the back of the sofa. They constantly have motion, are active. But rigidity creeps in over time due to our formalised (and let’s admit it also highly ‘successful’ modern societies). I remember seeing a 92 year old man in Bornean Malaysia mountain village squatting, then getting up and naturally clambering up a short coconut tree trunk as lithe as teenager. But then again, he’s ‘poor’.

  31. I like the idea of time for movement, without a need for programming. Some days I want to walk, some days jog, some days throw in some sprints, and other days lift light or heavy. Exercising intuitively feels much lessonerous, more fun, and probably reduces my chance of injury because Im not forcing mybody to do something its rebelling against.

  32. Working out is an amazing stress reliever. What is wrong with that? I use the gym as my one hour per day to listen to new music and be “alone” in the gym.. Lifting weights brings me joy just as doing other things brings joy to others.

    I have a job that causes me to sit at a desk all day and I am definitely not going to rely on walking around, taking the stairs, etc. to keep my physique in shape but hey, to each is own!

    I love working out and always will!

  33. I love going to the gym.
    Outdoor activity is only an option around five months a year, and it’s a drive to get there.
    I live alone, work in isolation(I.T.), and live in a place with harsh winters.
    It’s fun to be around people, be warm, and work up a sweat every day.

  34. I’ve also been trying not to use “workout”. I like to think of it as “being active” or as myself “doing something active”. This has helped changed my mentality greatly.

  35. I love the primal lifestyle, however, at what point do we just have to accept that our culture is quite different from our ancestors. Unfortunately, I do not have the ability to work outdoors or do something physical for my job. In order to maintain my health, I have to “schedule” my workouts around my job. A good topic for a future blog post would be to discuss at what point do we diverge from our ancestors to accommodate the modern world. 🙂

  36. I don’t know if it’s because of where I live but I’ve never seen any “workout mentality” on anyone I know. For me, the gym is that weird place where people runs on treadmills in front of the windows for everyone to see them.

    I don’t know anybody who is doing exercice because they should, they just do it because they like it or they simply don’t do any. For example, my parents do biking and snow-shoeing and cross-country skiing and probably walking too.

    I think having someone to move with really helps. I know I greatly enjoy taking long walks with my husband and I’m sure it would be less enjoyable alone.

  37. Regarding Dr. Gustin’s comment about fixing our modern movement patterns, you should check out Foundation Training. Dr. Eric Goodman developed FT to help remedy this very problem. I believe that Foundation Training is the primal solution to our poor modern movement patterns. Mark must agree since Eric Goodman is going to be presenting/demonstrating Foundation Training at the next Primal Con! Check out his bio on the Primal Con link. Foundation Training is awesome stuff!

  38. It’s a lovely idea to think of exercise as an organic activity, but most people need a structured workout to ensure that they engage in rigorous activity for a sufficiently long period to do them some good. In addition, exercise isn’t always fun — I’m sure athletes could tell you that.

    I’m not exercising consistently now in part because of the boredom and inconvenience. I’m trying to find my way back, but this article doesn’t offer a solution to me. Incidentally, I do walk and take the stairs where others would take the subway or the elevator. It’s not enough.

  39. The one aspect of this lifestyle that I really do think of as a workout is PEM’s and sprints. I have started to include them in my weekly habits. For me it is a reward and evidence of change for the better. Generally I have to do the pull-ups at home, but the others I do in a classroom once I’m ready for my day. I’m a substitute teacher so that means I do I do a little excersize in classrooms all over the city. I’m on my feet all day and some schools have 3 flights of stairs that I take several times a day. I look at it as some extra activity in my day. I park at the far end of parking lots when shopping and go to the grocery store several times a week. When I am able to walk in the neighborhood and nearby business district with my housemate, we walk the “gold trail”. We look for money as we go. LOL. It is more a competition about who finds the most change. Even if we only find a a penny, we didn’t get “skunked.” So far I’m the big winner, I found a $10 bill! One day a kind man offered my housemate some change! Too funny. I can’t always go so I do call going to the basement for my glider run “going to the salt mines.” But I feel good when I do it and I sprint during commercial breaks on the T.V. In the summer I work at a greenhouse and the job is very physically demanding and I start the summer out with an awesome farmer tan!

  40. I’ve never seen a post that resonated so deeply! I SO agree! I discovered a long time ago that pointless activity didn’t do much for me. Instead I like to incorporate activity into my real life, or, find activity through real life. So I like to bike into town to pick up the groceries. I like to spade my garden by hand, do the hoeing with a hoe, rake the leaves in the fall, shovel snow, split and stack wood, carry 50 lb bags of chicken feed, etc., etc. I do love to walk and run, though, BUT NOT ON A TREADMILL INSIDE FOUR WALLS!!
    I have some floor exercises that I do every morning, but many of them are therapeutic.

  41. Like a couple people have mentioned, I’ve changed from workouts to training. I’m committed to an hour a day at the gym due to heart disease, as recommended by both the Canadian and American Heart Associations. (An hour a day resets the time-bomb in my chest). After a few months of the same runs and weight routines, I decided if I had to log the time it should produce some results aside from CV fitness, so I started power lifting. In five months I’ve greatly increased my strength and am lifting respectable tonnage for a man my age. I enjoy the work and challenge. At 58, and training in the barbell weight room at the university gym, I’m older than everyone else there by 40 years most mornings. I’ve gotten to know a few of the football grain-fed monsters I train beside; great kids. Not sure what they make of the geezer moving big iron.

  42. If I say I am going to walk home (even if it’s only 5-10 minutes away), I get asked “Are you sure? I can give you a lift…” I always assure them that it’s cool and that I really need the “steps”, because they would just assume I was only being polite if I told them I actually enjoy it. How sad is that?

    1. I have a nephew that recently moved into the downtown of Minneapolis. He said that previously he would drive even four blocks to run errands, but now walks miles naturally with his new urban lifestyle. I can see how this is a huge plus! I live in a part of the country that is very cold and my first-rung suburb where I live is an icy, dangerous place to walk. I’m rather envious of him!